Strategic Goal 2: Support for Academic Programs

Assist the school’s graduate programs in recruiting top students and providing them with the best possible educational experience


A multitude of factors affect the quality of The Graduate School’s academic programs. TGS will focus its resources on two significant aspects to help provide the support its programs need to compete for the best students and to prepare them to be leaders in contemporary society:

  1. Helping programs and departments with their recruitment and marketing efforts.
  2. Cultivating a culture of assessment within the departments and programs to ensure that the education received by students is of the highest quality.

Objective 2.1: Help departments and programs with recruitment and marketing

A key mission of the school’s Office of Graduate Student Affairs (GSA) is to coordinate, supplement, and expand the recruiting efforts of graduate departments and programs. Each year GSA participates in recruitment fairs across the country to meet potential graduate students and to answer questions they might have about Duke’s graduate programs. GSA also coordinates visits to campus requested by schools to bring talented undergraduates from across the country. Activities during these visits typically include seminars on graduate admissions and financial aid, panel discussions with faculty and graduate students, departmental visitations, and informal gatherings. The Graduate School should explore how to build upon these current efforts.


A. Ascertain our programs’ recruitment needs and define TGS’s role in meeting those needs by meeting with DGSs and DGSAs in August of each year to discuss recruitment needs and strategies.

B. Develop consistent communication with departments and programs after each time The Graduate School participates in recruitment events such as fairs, student visits, and national consortia.

C. Integrate a new customer relationship management system (tentatively slated to roll out in 2018 for The Graduate School) into existing Graduate School recruitment workflow. The CRM will enhance the school’s ability to collect leads, track prospective students, and share that information with departments and programs.

D. Explore ways to collaborate among Graduate School units to streamline the school’s interaction with directors of graduate studies and their assistants.

E. Develop templates and toolkits that programs can easily incorporate into their materials for recruitment, grant applications, and other purposes. 

Key Performance Indicators

A. Annual assessment of the recruitment needs of each program

B. Sharing of lists of prospective students with relevant departments and programs after each recruitment event

C. Integration of new CRM system into the school’s recruitment workflow

D. Efficiency gained in potential streamlining of school interactions with DGSes and DGSAs

E. Creation of templates, toolkits, and boilerplate language that programs can incorporate into their materials

Objective 2.2: Make assessment part of the culture within all graduate programs

With more than 70 degree-granting master’s and doctoral programs, cultivating a culture of assessment in The Graduate School is essential to preparing Duke graduate students to be societal leaders. The following strategies and key performance indicators ensure that the education received by students achieves two aims. First, a culture of assessment offers graduate programs the opportunity to continually refine the content and quality of offerings so as to address the central issues confronting graduate education nationwide (e.g. access, retention, satisfaction, engagement, student success, and career outcomes). Second, a culture of assessment helps ensure that the quality of education received by students is the finest in the country.


A. Improve the quality and utility of student learning outcomes assessment by programs.

B. Begin to systematically assess The Graduate School’s professional development offerings.

C. Continue to promote and refine ongoing assessment practices, such as course evaluations.

D. Develop and pilot an online system that graduate programs can use, if they choose to, for their graduate course evaluations.

E. Explore ways to bring online course evaluation system into conversation with annual assessment efforts.

F. Participate in national conversations regarding best practices for tracking career pathways of graduate alumni.

Key Performance Indicators

A. Develop appropriate rubrics that measure the quality of assessment reports

B. Collaborate with relevant assistant deans in the assessment of The Graduate School’s offerings, which may include Professional Development, Certificate in College Teaching, English for International Students, Preparing Future Faculty, and Responsible Conduct of Research

C. Maintain 100 percent compliance in annual assessment of student learning outcomes.

D. Pilot online course evaluation system

E. Continue to meet with and offer individually tailored feedback to all Directors of Graduate Studies (DGS) and, when possible, Directors of Graduate Studies Assistants (DGSA) regarding the annual assessment process

F. Articulate potential separate and individualized strategies for tracking and reporting master’s and doctoral student career outcomes

G. Align articulated career outcome tracking strategies with implementation recommendations from relevant national bodies, such as the Council of Graduate Schools


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